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Petrel, Southern Giant

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Petrel, Southern Giant

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:59 am

The two similar-looking species of giant petrels, the Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli) and the Southern Giant Petrel (M. giganteus), are renowned for being difficult to separate. If seen at close range under good light conditions, bill-tip coloration is a diagnostic feature that allows the observer to differentiate one species from the other: greenish in the southern and reddish in the northern.

The Southern Giant Petrel is the largest petrel, but not so much that size difference becomes a identifying trait in field observations.


Opportunist scavenger and predator, giant petrels (both species) eat penguin, albatross, seal and whale carrion, ship offal and kelp. They also prey on small birds and take fish and squid off the surface.

Southern giant petrels are pelagic and circumpolar, generally found between subantarctic and Antarctic latitudes from 40°S to 68°S, with breeding as far south as continental Antarctica.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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Re: Petrel, Southern Giant

Unread post by hilda » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:25 am

Very interesting of how to differentiate between the Northern and Southern Giant Petrel Johan! Thank you for sharing! :clap: :clap:
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